Wrap-up: Broncos 12, Bengals 7

Posted by ESPN.com’s James Walker

Hold off the playoff talk for now in Cincinnati.

The Bengals need to get back to the fundamentals in order to win their first game of the 2009 season.

Despite the preseason hype, the Bengals were sloppy and inefficient and it cost them Sunday in a 12-7 loss to the Denver Broncos.

A strong case can be made that Cincinnati (0-1) should have defeated Denver (1-0). The Bengals scored a late touchdown to take a 7-6 lead with 38 seconds remaining. But a miracle 87-yard touchdown reception by receiver Brandon Stokley with 11 seconds left put Denver over the top.

The Broncos did lead Cincinnati 6-0 for much of the second half. They also didn’t turn over the football and intercepted Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer twice. A last-minute scoring drive from the Bengals at home nearly made the difference. But a young team like Cincinnati has to learn to play football for the full 60 minutes. It was a hard lesson the Bengals experienced Sunday.

The road doesn’t get much easier. Cincinnati travels to play the Green Bay Packers next week and will try to avoid falling to 0-2 on the season.